Taking a medicine incorrectly could mean you end up with too little or too much of it in your body–so you may not get the full benefit, or you could be at greater risk of side effects. This Be Medicinewise Week take the time to take charge of your medicines by asking the right questions, asking the right people and following the right advice. Improve your health outcomes by following these useful tips.
Tip 1. Ask medicinewise questions
Whether you have taken a medicine before or not, it affects your health, so take your time to ask the questions you need answered to make an informed decision. Make a list and take it with you when you speak to health professionals. You might like to include the following questions:
- What is the medicine for?
- What is the active ingredient?
- How do I take or use this medicine correctly?
- What are the possible side effects and what can I do about them?
- What should or shouldn’t I do while taking this medicine (e.g. drive)?
Tip 2. Don’t rely on ‘Dr Google’
While it is always a good idea to educate yourself on health-related information, not all the health information you can access through the internet will be accurate or reliable. Sometimes the information is clinically correct, but written in medical jargon, making it difficult to follow. Knowing how and where to find understandable, accurate and reliable information is important.
Tip 3. Work with your health professionals
Follow the advice of your health professionals to manage any medicines or tests that are needed. This means making sure you can communicate clearly, confidently and effectively with each other.
Tell your health professional about all the medicines you take, to avoid risky interactions, remember that medicines don’t just come on prescription—they include over-the counter and complementary medicines such as vitamins and other supplements that you may be taking.
If there are barriers such as language, culture or disabilities that make following advice difficult, consider having a support person with you at health appointments who can help with communication. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need when it comes to your health.
And if you are having, or think you might have trouble remembering to take your medicines speak with your health professional. There are many tools and resources, such as packaging systems and apps, (like the MedicineList+ app) that might be useful.
Be Medicinewise Week is on from 22 to 28 August and promotes the safer and wiser use of medicines by all Australians. To learn more visit nps.org.au/be-medicinewise-week.
If you are unsure about any medicine, you can call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 633 424, and talk to a pharmacist Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST.